WFP: LEEDing the way in sustainable construction

Wed, 22/02/17

“Humanitarian response, sustainable development, and sustaining peace are three sides of the same triangle” – UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) aims to mainstream environmental management across its operations and 'tread lightly' on the earth. One way it has embraced environmental sustainability is in the ‘green’ methods used during recent construction and renovations in Rome headquarters, a building of 31,613 m2

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a certification body leading the way in encouraging green building practices globally. In late 2016, WFP HQ received LEED Platinum certification for three buildings constructed in the Rome compound, and in January 2017, LEED Gold was obtained for a renovation project. Platinum LEED is the highest environmental sustainability construction award possible, and WFP is one of only 23 organizations in Italy to have successfully obtained it. 

Childcare centre with roof garden

Childcare centre with roof garden

WFP achieved LEED certification for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at achieving high performance in: water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, indoor environmental quality, innovation and sustainable site development.

  • Sink taps were fitted with aerators, reducing the amount of water used for washing by up to 80%. A 6,000m3 rainwater tank was installed to recycle water. 
  • Green buildings use approximately 46% less energy than baseline buildings. 
  • More than 90% of construction waste from the four green buildings was diverted from landfill to recycling centres. 
  • All adhesives and paints used contained low VOC (volatile organic compounds) to ensure better air quality. 
  • A roof garden was planted on 100% of the walkable area of the roof of the childcare centre, for natural insulation
  • Sustainable transport, another part of LEED certification, is also encouraged at WFP HQ. Bicycle racks, dedicated showers, changing rooms and lockers have been provided for cyclists. 

Green building is the concept of incorporating environmentally responsible and resource-efficient processes during the design, construction, operation, maintenance and renovation of buildings. 

“Achieving LEED certification is more than just implementing sustainable practices, it represents a commitment to making the world a better place and influencing others to do better, which World Food Programme demonstrates every day,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “Buildings that achieve LEED certification are lowering carbon emissions, creating a healthier environment and reducing operating costs while prioritizing sustainable practices.”

Forum meeting centre with optimization of natural light

Forum meeting centre with optimization of natural light

Senior Project Manager Massimo Mastromatteo noted that with 90% of WFP’s staff based in field locations, headquarters should lead by example, but must also advocate practical actions that will work in developing countries too. “Energy efficient lighting and water efficient taps or toilets, and even rainwater capture and solar hot water, are even more important in field locations where water may be scarce or we depend on generators for power” he said. 

Sustainable building is just one aspect of WFP’s commitment to looking after the environment globally. In WFP Somalia, a hybrid power supply system provides clean power to the Bossaso compound. The system combines solar panels and wind turbines with generators and city grid power. Located close to the port, this warehouse is vital for safely storing food destined for Somali people.

WFP is currently working with UN Environment and the Government of Sweden to pilot an Environmental Management System (EMS) in its operations in Kenya, and will seek to build on this work through a new environmental policy, presented for executive endorsement in February.  

Categories: Buildings, Energy, Water